The "Coughequences" of Coughing
Coughing is just not good. Not only is it a nuisance to yourself, but those around you usually don't appreciate it either! Unfortunately, like sneezing and yawning, coughing is one of those things that our body naturally has to do in certain situations. Coughing fits are more common certain times a year: either in spring, during allergy season, or in winter, due to colds! Since it is March (and very much winter!), the latter definitely applies.
Unfortunately, coughing does have its "coughequences." If you find yourself only coughing for a few days while getting over a mild cold or sickness, consider yourself lucky. If you are one of the unlucky people who find themselves plagued with long coughing bouts -- which can range from shallow, frequent coughs to very deep, "racking" ones -- there might be a deeper reason that your cough is hanging on. Dr. Michelle Yagoda is an expert ear, nose, and throat doctor who has seen her share of coughing patients! Finding the underlying cause of coughing is important -- that way the doctor knows how to stop it.
When a cough lasts for more than three weeks or produces blood in the phlegm, itís time to seek out the underlying cause. While there are many possible explanations for a chronic cough, the most common causes are allergies and asthma, postnasal drip, tobacco use, and acid reflux (or GERD), in which stomach acids can flow back into the throat causing irritation. Other less common causes include a lingering infection, chronic bronchitis (more commonly seen in smokers), habitual or nervous coughing, and the side effects of certain medications. Chronic coughs can be quite disruptive. They rob you of sleep, make it difficult to eat, drink and speak, hurt your chest and back, and the cause lightheadedness. When a cough is really intense, it can even cause vomiting and fractured ribs! Fortunately, for most of us, even the worst cough goes away after a few lousy days. But what if it doesnít?
Determining the cause of your cough is critical to establishing an effective treatment regimen. Rather than treating just the cough itself (although cough suppressants may be prescribed to help you sleep better), Dr. Yagoda treats the underlying condition. If the cause of your chronic cough is found to be asthma, for example, you may be given medications that reduce inflammation and widen the airways as well as antihistamines, leukotriene inhibitors and decongestants. If, however, acid reflux is the culprit, youíll be given recommendations for changing your diet and reducing stress, and perhaps be prescribed medications that block acid production. Whatever the cause, one thing is for certain: without the proper diagnosis, you can not have the correct treatment.
A cough is considered chronic if it lasts eight weeks or longer for adults, or four weeks or longer for children. The cough itself is not the problem but is a symptom of the underlying issue. If you find yourself with a cough that keeps hanging around, be sure to seek medical attention. Although coughing is annoying, it is the body's way of saying something is not right! In the meantime (and especially in the winter cold), soothing your throat with liquids (like tea) might help bring some relief. Unfortunately, this type of coughing rarely resolves itself, so take heed -- or suffer the "coughequences!"
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In The News ... February 10th was an exciting day! Inside Edition sought out Dr. Yagoda's expert opinion about Uma Thurman's new look. Listen to her opinion here.... On December 8th, Inside Edition interviewed Dr. Yagoda in her office about President Obama's acid reflux problems. Miss the original airing? Watch it here! ... Dr. Yagoda and her partner, Dr. Eugene Gans' studies on their nutritional supplement, BeautyScoop, was published on October 8, 2014 in the Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences. Read it at this link.